Reviews | Written by Paul Mount 27/08/2021

DOCTOR WHO – THE MYTH MAKERS

Broadcast towards the end of 1965 during Doctor Who’s third series, The Myth Makers, written by Donald Cotton, has long been missing from the TV Archive. This new beautifully presented two-disc vinyl release of the soundtrack from Demon Records might seem a curious choice bearing in mind that it’s a wordy historical piece with none of the show’s signature monsters and aliens, but it’s actually an interesting and timely choice as it casts some much-needed light on a story that is often overlooked and lost in the shadow of its more infamous contemporaries – the exhausting twelve-episode ‘Daleks’ Masterplan’ (already released on vinyl) was just around the corner – and a reminder of the show’s original remit to educate its young audience as well as entertain them.

The TARDIS materialises on a plain outside the besieged city of Troy where Priam’s son Hector is battling with the Greek warrior Achilles. The Doctor (William Hartnell) emerges from the TARDIS – the distraction allows Achilles to kill Hector.  Achilles believes that the Doctor is a disguised Zeus – “it is well-known that when you come amongst us you adopt different forms” he says, entirely inadvertently prefiguring the show’s ultimate USP in relation to its regenerating lead character. The Doctor is taken to the Greek encampment where Agamemnon insists that the Doctor helps the Greeks in their endless battle with the Trojans. The Doctor’s companions Steven (Peter Purves) and Vicki (Maureen O’Brien) are, in best Who tradition, separated when Steven sets off to find the Doctor and Vicki remains in the TARDIS which is taken into Troy by Priam’s other son Paris. When she finally steps out of the TARDIS Vicki too is assumed to be a God and is renamed Cressida, setting in motion a chain of events which will lead to her own surprisingly poignant exit from the TARDIS crew at the end of a hugely listenable four-episode romp which puts its own very special Doctor Who spin on the legend of the siege of Troy and the Trojan Horse…

The Myth Makers is very much a product of its era, a stagey, talky, clumpy cod-Shakespearean drama (although it often dips heavily into broad comedy) boasting a breezy, squawky score by Humphrey Searle and packed with ripe performances from guest actors Max Adrian, Francis de Wolff and Barrie Ingham (fresh from his turn in the colour Doctor Who and the Daleks feature film earlier in the year) and with William Hartnell clearly on surer ground in a historical setting that doesn’t require him to fumble his way through dense sci-fi jargon. Cotton’s script is witty, sophisticated, and even oddly touching at times and, even shorn of its visuals, it works well as an audio drama as the soundscape and the dialogue paint pictures – along with Peter Purves’s narration filling in the visual gaps - that the low budget TV version probably couldn’t have matched.

Aiming squarely at the collectors market, Demon has once again done the serial’s presentation proud with a glorious gatefold sleeve depicting the Trojan Horse against a fiery Troy cityscape background with the two discs themselves on irresistibly lurid orange ‘Trojan sunset’ vinyl. Another winner for a Doctor Who merchandise line that should be hugely anachronistic in the disposal digital age, but which fits beautifully with the archive nature of the material itself. Terrific.